Lasting power of attorney (LPA) allows UK citizens to choose someone to act on their behalf in case they are incapacitated – whether it be through illness, an accident, or a lack of mental capacity – but only 14 per cent of people have set it up.
The majority of people think that family and friends are given the right to make financial and medical decisions on their behalf by default in the case of incapacitation, according to a recent study. However, in most cases, the Court of Protection chooses who can make these decisions.
This means that if a spouse was to become incapacitated without LPA set up, the partner would need to apply to the Court of Protection in order to manage their assets and finances. This could potentially cause issues if any bills need to be paid, either delaying or preventing it altogether.
A total of six per cent of UK citizens have LPA set up to enable loved ones to manage issues regarding their health – making medical decisions for them such as routines, daily care, or if they are receiving all the care they require at their current location.
An even smaller percentage of people – four per cent – have enabled loved ones to manage their finances and assets if required. This would allow for bills to be paid, benefits & pension payments to be received, and property to be sold.
LPA is particularly important for degenerative diseases such as dementia. Those setting it up must still be regarded as mentally capable to give those close to them lasting powers – delaying it could leave loved ones without any power over medical care or assets.
Despite the small percentage of those that have LPA set up, there has still been a significant rise over the past 10 years – from 52,492 applications to 759,976 as of April 2018 – according to the Office of the Public Guardian.